Altoona grad Lee having strong D-I career at Hartford

By Michael Boytim

mboytim@altoonamirror.com

Darby Lee had to sweat out scoring 1,000 points as a senior at Altoona Area High School.

Though Lee reached the accomplishment, it was something she was hoping she didn’t have to worry about at the collegiate level. On Feb. 17, she hit her milestone with time to spare.

Even better, it came on a huge day for her Hartford women’s basketball team.

“It meant a lot,” Lee said. “It’s always been a goal of mine. I got it much more comfortably here than in high school, and it ended up being a home game with all my family (except younger sister Darcy) there at the game. We had a huge crowd, we ran them out of the gym and we broke a lot of records.”

Hartford beat Vermont, 91-52, and teammate Lindsey Abed made a school record eight 3-pointers. The Hawks dished out a record 28 assists and scored their most points since 1987.

Lee became the 17th player to reach 1,000 points in program history.

“Being able to score 1,000 points in her college career is a huge milestone,” Hartford coach Kim McNeill said. “I am so happy for Darby. It saddens me to think that my time with Darby is about to come to an end. Unfortunately, I was only able to coach her for two years, but I wish I had two more.”

McNeill came to Hartford during Lee’s junior year after a coaching change.

“It was a tough transition,” Lee said. “We didn’t really know what to expect, and we had no idea who was coming in or what their style would be. It was a big adjustment, but myself and the team handled it pretty well.”

Lee, who has been named to the third team of the All-America East squad the past two seasons, is hoping to be honored again this year. She’s averaging 11.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while starting all 27 games for Hartford. She also has 45 steals and 25 assists. Earlier this season she scored a career-high 24 points in a game, and she was named Hartford’s Xfinity Athlete of the Week twice.

“On a daily basis, Darby has brought a sense of loyalty, dependability and toughness to this program,” McNeill said. “That will never be forgotten.”

Lee is also helping the future generation of Hawks by becoming more of a leader this season. Lee is one of four co-captains.

“Each captain brings something different,” Lee said. “Personally, I have been trying to be more vocal. We have really taken it to heart.”

Lee is a biology major and is set to graduate in May. She’s planning on looking for something in the environmental and conservation field in the New England area.

“The friends I have made throughout the years have been great,” Lee said. “The whole experience has been amazing. So many opportunities have opened up here. As soon as I got here my whole life changed.”

Hartford stands at 17-12 and 9-7 in the America East Conference heading into the conference tournament on Saturday.

Lee doesn’t plan to continue her basketball career after this season but can think of a good way to end it.

“Hopefully we can get a championship,” Lee said.

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